This month I took on a 30-day photo challenge offered up by one of the many toy groups on Instagram. I have always resisted the 365 photo-a-day project or other challenges. For one thing, I knew I did not have the discipline to post a photo a day and I also wanted to do my own thing.
But lately I have been feeling lost and unispired.
This challenge has been the perfect antidote. I spend most of my waking days rolling the various words around in my head to see what images come up. Basically this has become an all encompassing pursuit. Of course I will conveniently ignore the fact that I was stuck on the phrase “too much” for three days and be happy for the image I did eventually create. Sure I pulled a couple of photos out of my back pocket (so to speak) that have never seen the light of day, but thats ok. Some times images sit on my iPad until the right time to post reveals itself.
Personally if I end this challenge with nothing other than the image below, I will consider this a month very well spent. One good image in a month of shooting seems like a pretty good ratio to me.
So, if you are feeling blah about your photography or need a little poke in the butt – then sign up for a photo-a-day challenge. You might surprise your self, I know I did.
If you decide to take on a photo-a-day challenge, I will be there to cheer you on!
One thing that +Me2 and I agree on is that a good image is one in which the viewer makes an emotional connection with the image. As I look back through the last six months of my images I wonder if I can tell the difference. What makes one image of a small plastic person look more alive than another?
Is it the tilt of a head, is it particular movement of the legs, a small gesture of the curved hand or maybe just a trick of the light? It’s not like Lego is a particularly moveable, expressive toy figure. Yet some images seem alive while others just lie flat on the screen / paper.
+Me2 and I also agree on the importance of the eyes being in focus. Yet, not all the images I deem to have been successful include faces and in some the eyes are obscured. So while I know this is a part of the equation, I don’t think it is the answer.
This may seem like an inconsequential question but I have always approached my toy photography as an attempt to “bring the toys alive”. As a young girl my toys were very real to me. We chatted, they listened, they went every where with me and for lack of a better description, they were my friends. I want my viewer to feel what I feel while I document the lives of my little plastic friends.
As always some images are more successful than others and I cherish the ones that achieve that emotional element. I think I would be happy if I could crack the code and help people see how alive my little plastic friends are to me. Until I do, I will keep taking photos and hope people will connect with them as I do.
If you have any tips to help bring the toys “alive” I would love to hear them.
I’ve been a photographer for a long time; some might even accuse me of being an artist. I don’t like labels, so I will continue to resist these labels and settle for being just a photographer. But one thing has remained constant throughout my life as a photographer: the struggle to create art. Even after 30 plus years I still struggle with the question: “Am I a real artist?”
As I was reading Steal Like an Artist, I realized chapter two had some pretty insightful things to say on this phenomena. Even if you follow there advice and look to your heroes to study, copy, emulate, attribute, transform, remix their influences until your source material becomes your own. Even if you do all of this successfully, then what? If you are like me you may still feel like a fake. I ask myself all of the time: Am I a REAL artist?
It turns out I am not alone in this feeling and they even have a name for it: impostor syndrome or the “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” It means that feeling like a phony, a fake, a charlatan, is perfectly normal.
Earlier this year the EMP asked me to be apart of a one night only panel of experts on different areas of the Lego community. I was billed as the “expert” Lego photographer. I laughed and told people I was an “expert in my field” (complete with air quotes). But little did I realize that maybe I am an expert in my field. Ok, I will admit it’s a very small field, one that has just a handful of participants. But hey, I am an expert! If the EMP called me one, I must be one! I’m going to go out on a limb and call Me2 an expert too. (I hope he doesn’t mind.)
Which leads me to the most important question: Are you an artist? Are you an expert in toy photography? If so, let me know. Let’s be experts together, we can fake it until we all make it…together.
As I wait for me2 to recover from his latest secret mission I have been struggling to find interesting topics to write about. This blogging business is not easy.
As I have been casting about looking for topics, a particular book title kept popping into my head: Steal Like an Artist. This little book made its way into our house a couple of years ago and even though it has an awesome title I never read it. In my desperation for a blogging topic I tracked it down and cracked it open. Eureka!
With chapter topics like: “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started” and “Side projects and hobbies are important” this book was speaking my language.
The first chapter alone is worth the price of admission. Somehow the author makes over used nuggets like “Nothing is Original” and “Garbage in Garbage Out” seems fresh and original. My favorite quote he chose to illustrate this chapter was by Jim Jarmusch.
“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be a authentic.”
In the world of toy photography where everything is emulated and much is passed around without attribution, it’s important to note that by using the world “steal” the author is encouraging you to be inspired by everything you see, but don’t plagiarize.
Unless me2 suddenly shows up, I’ll talk about some of my other favorite chapters later this week. Stay tuned!
Homage to Robert Mapplethorpe
I was researching 500px today in my continuing quest to find other amazing toy photographers and I was impressed by the quality of the photos presented. If you are not familiar with 500px it is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr. It also has a secondary feature called 500px Prime which is designed to match advertisers up with photographers happy to sell their photos for $250US. You can purchase royalty free usage of any of these incredible photos, which gives the purchaser the right to use the photo, in any way they see fit, for as long as they want. That is an incredible deal!
If this doesn’t prove my point that photography has been rendered valueless by the sheer volume of images being produced, I don’t know what does.
I think it is time to go back to square one or at least January 1.
My New Years resolution this year was to take myself less seriously and I think it’s high time to revisit this idea. Toy photography should be (and is) fun!
I’m open to a revolution but my revolution will need to include a fair amount of silliness and fun. And maybe, through my lego photos, I can bring a few extra smiles into the world.
Viva la Revolution!!
Weird things happen when Me2 disappears into one of his top secret assignments. I tend to go off topic…like now.
“The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.” – Banksy
This quote was included in the comments in one of my previous post by the talented @mister_bricks. He altered the quote slightly by replacing “fame” with “likes”. This quote resonated with me and I felt it was appropriate to revisit the topic “Is Their Life Beyond Instagram?”.
I’ll be clear, I’m not looking for likes for my photos. I create them for my own pleasure. I enjoy the Instagram community that has nurtured and inspired me for the last two years. But posting pictures on Instagram can only be satisfying for so long.
I believe that one of our goals here at Stuckinplastic is to unite like minded photographers who would like to take their toy photography to a new level. Specifically, showing them in real life. This could include displaying them at a cafe in your neighborhood, creating a pop up art gallery or some version of gorilla street art a la Banksy. Whatever or wherever our imaginations take us is fine by me.
Let’s storm the gates, let’s create an art movement, let’s rejoice in the fact that we are brothers in arms that just happen to be stuck in plastic!
With the prevalence of filters and their relative ease of use, how far is too far?
Rarely do I jump at the bait of contests on IG, usually I’m too busy doing my own thing. But recently one caught my eye and I decided to try my hand. The parameters are pretty simple: create an image using Snapseed’s HDR Scape filter. This is not a filter I ever use favoring a more natural look to my photos, but hey, trying new things is good! Right? So I present to you a before and after of one of the images I submitted. Personally I felt I had taken this image about as far as I could using this app, but I was informed by one of the judges I had not taken it to the “ludicrous” level. I laughed and told him I had! Maybe we just started at two different points on the editing spectrum.
Should I take my editing even farther? Where do you stop? Is this even a relevant discussion?
I’m sure Me2 will have something witty to say.